Memphis’ spring game is upon us, and it gives fans a chance to see what the 2018 Tigers look like. Memphis is coming off of a 10-3 season in which they made an AAC Championship Game appearance. This is a team that returns a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, and they could be stocked up for another run. There are some questions, though, and today we take a look at five questions to ponder until the season starts.
Who’s going to win the quarterback battle?
This will be the question until one player commands the starting position, so it won’t be until the season starts. Brady White and David Moore have been the top two candidates in the race so far, but Brady Davis and Connor Adair aren’t necessarily out of it. White comes from Arizona State, and Moore was the backup to Riley Ferguson. Whoever wins the job joins an offense that is loaded with talent, so there shouldn’t be a ton of pressure for them to be a star.
Will the youth on defense become veterans in 2018?
Injuries forced freshman and sophomores into the defense earlier than Mike Norvell wanted, but the benefit is that they received valuable experience. Losing Genard Aver and Jonathan Cook will hurt, but there are numerous players that can step in this season. Memphis’ defense was extremely porous at times in 2017, but that can be chalked up to youth. Now that those players have a full offseason to prepare (on top of the reps they got last year), the Tigers defense should be vastly improved.
Who replaces Anthony Miller?
The short answer is no one. Miller was an elite talent, and there isn’t a receiver on the roster that can replicate what he did. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any weapons. Tony Pollard is a threat to score everytime he touches the football, but we may not see much of him in the spring game. Pop Williams, Damonte Coxie, Kedarian Jones, and Mechane Slade are all players to watch. Tight ends Joey Magnifico and Sean Dykes were great options last year as well. So while Miller is irreplaceable by one person, the Tigers have a great receiving corps to continue dominating opposing secondaries.
Is this Mike Norvell’s final season with the Tigers?
It was a scary offseason for Memphis, with Norvell being linked to various jobs. The Arkansas courting left many fans believing he was gone, but he decided to stay. It wasn’t like that was unexpected, however. With success at the Group of 5 level, losing a head coach comes with the territory. Norvell’s now 18-8 with the Tigers, and another great year could mean that he’ll be leaving Memphis after this year. Which leads us to.......
Will Memphis return to the AAC Championship game?
Last year’s run was fun to watch, and many experts think the loss of Ferguson, Miller, Avery, and Cook will be too much for this team to overcome. Is it true? The answers to questions 1-3 will determine that, but don’t count this team out. Houston is being pegged as the favorite in the AAC West, which could bode well for the Tigers while they figure out their quarterback situation. As stated earlier, this is a team with a ton of talent on both sides of the ball, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see another 10+ win season. Returning to the Championship Game isn’t out of the question at all.